By SALVATORE ROMANO
New York City public advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio on Tuesday urged an end to the ongoing school bus strike, focusing on the hardships faced by special education children during the walkout.
“To our kids who rely on school buses, the absence of these buses have changed their lives very much for the worse,” said de Blasio on the steps of City Hall. “And that’s especially true for our special education kids.”
De Blasio estimated that three out of ten special education children were missing school due to the strike. In District 75 in Manhattan, the attendance rate for such children has been in the high 60 percent, powerlins ii femmes said district president Joseph Williams, who is himself the father of a mentally challenged teenager.
“For parents in this city, the sense of disbelief has grown,” said de Blasio. “How on earth did the mayor continue to throw up his hands and act like he can’t do anything here? What we need desperately is a cooling off period.”
The strike, now in its fifteenth day, is a conflict that “shouldn’t have had to happen,” added de Blasio.
Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito called the mayor the “bully in the schoolyard” in dealing with the strike, and said “he is holding the transportation and the education of our children hostage for political purpose.”
Lori Podvesker of Resources for Children with Special Needs, whose 10-year-old son suffers from cerebral palsy and severe apraxia, said her house has been turned “upside down” since the strike began.
“As we watch our city pawn kids, like mine and others, for the sake of politics and money, we’ve also been forced to watch the members of the media victimize our children by pitying them,” said Podvesker. “Our kids don’t need people feeling sorry for them. What they need and deserve is to be treated with respect.”
The mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.